Winter 2013 – Week 7 Anime Review

sasami_san@ganbaranai-06-sasami-spaghetti-pasta-food-restaurant-giant_bite-comedy-all_in_one_biteThis week: questions about who the real big bad in Psycho-Pass could be, some thoughts on why I continue to watch Little Busters!, social cliques in character pairings in Senran Kagura, and some earth-shattering omissions in Maoyuu Maou Yuusha.

As I do at the midpoint in every season, I reverse the order of anime in this list, so that’s being done in this post.

Best episode of the week: Chihayafuru 2

Anime trending up this week: Sasami-san@Ganbaranai

Anime trending down this week: Kotoura-san

 

Zetsuen no Tempest (Episode 18)

zetsuen_no_tempest-18-hakaze-panic-distress-fear-anxiety-holding_head_with_handsSo, who do you root for in this anime?  Given the progression and recent developments in Zetsuen no Tempest, the various factions have seemingly merged and the difference between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ has faded into varying shades of grey depending on your perspective.  What was once a story with two clear sides going against each other, Tempest now features a rather complex network of partnerships that barely reflects the relationships from the first half of this anime.  Furthermore, the stances and motivations for these characters have changed, too.  If you were rooting for a specific character or a certain side during the first half, you may not necessarily be choosing the same now given how different they are and how the situations have changed.  The difference and disparity between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ in Tempest has blurred to the point where they’re almost indistinguishable now and, provided the variety of perspectives and opinions of the audience, it’s become rather abstruse to choose a definite side or character to root for in this anime.  Actually, I really appreciate that in an anime like this and find that the way the story is evolving to be beneficial to how Tempest wants to narrate its story.

zetsuen_no_tempest-18-hakaze-sly-smile-clever-mischievous zetsuen_no_tempest-18-hakaze-smile-playful-clever-surprise

 

Tamako Market (Episode 6)

tamako_market-06-tomio_shimizu-kaoru_hanase-mari_uotani-tamako-tadanao_shiraki-mamedai_kitashirakawa-chouji_yumoto-gohei_ooji-fumiko_mitsumura-shopkeepers-vendors-owners-panic-umbrellasThere are a number of distinct and individual personalities in Tamako Market.  You have characters like Tamako, Anko, Kanna, Shiori, and Dera all having strong, developed and definable personalities.  Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the shopkeepers and vendors of Tamako Market.  Instead, the various merchants and store owners of Tamako Market share a collective group personality which happened to be the focus of this episode.  Although each character within this specific group has their own appearance and separate personality, these characters share a surprising number of similar qualities and characteristics to form this ‘shopkeeper group mentality’.  Not only did they all share the same worries about the haunted house and share in the same gags throughout this episode, but this entire season has shown these characters share the same enthusiasm for the common marketplace, all be friendly and welcoming to Tamako and her friends and partake in certain defined roles in conversations or jokes (usually being straight-man or an onlooker with a funny reaction).  In fact, it seems as though the shopkeepers are a specific personality in this anime that just rotates between a number of replacement characters depending on what shop the girls happen to be in front of.  It’s as if the anime sees these various characters for one specific role like we see for Tamako or Dera or Kanna.  Because of that and because of the sixth episode of Tamako Market, we can consider all the shopkeepers in Tamako Market as one personality comprised of a bunch of similar characters.

tamako_market-06-kanna-measuring_tape-serious-awesome-comedy tamako_market-06-kanna-midori-tamako-shiori-ghosts-costumes-haunted_house-kimonos

 

Space Brothers (Episode 45)

space_brothers-45-serika-mutta-kenji-reiji-kitamura-jaxa-jumpsuits-astronauts-happyReceiving the uniform is always a huge deal.  Although Mutta successfully passed a rigorous series of tests and exams through JAXA, enough to be hired on as an astronaut, no one would realize it or recognize him just through his appearance alone.  However, by putting on the special blue jumpsuit provided by JAXA, anyone who looks at him and his uniform will immediately recognize his new occupation and his recent accomplishments.  That’s why obtaining the uniform is so rewarding and so cherished; it’s how other people see you and how they recognize you.  And now for Mutta, people will finally recognize him as an astronaut almost immediately (or so we hope).

space_brothers-45-mutta-surprised-electricity-panic-comedy space_brothers-45-mutta-unhappy-calm-serious

 

Shin Sekai Yori (Episode 20)

shin_sekai_yori-20-rural_japan-setting-farmland-agriculture-sunflowers-river-canals-valley-mountainsDuring the scene where Saki was blown up into the sky and falling to the Earth below, I found it odd that the entire valley was covered with farmlands that were all plots of green with some grasslands and forests out in the distance before the small mountains.  In fact, the only thing that wasn’t green besides the river and the irrigation canals were the lone field of sunflowers in a secluded corner of the valley.  And though the fields were divided by simple dirt roads, there was not real clear organization to the crops being grown or even clear indications to what crops were being grown.  Although I imagine their cantus is enough to plow and plant and irrigate, I’m now increasingly curious about their agriculture practices, what crops they’re growing and what foods the characters eat.  And only now did I realize how little we’ve seen the characters eat, especially compared to other anime where you see character snacking or eating meals or going to restaurants and whatnot.  It’s rather surprising how little we’ve seen in the way of food in this anime but, after gazing at these green landscapes and simplified farmlands, it’s pretty clear that this anime doesn’t seem too concerned with food or its physical setting considering how lazy these landscapes were.

And for what it’s worth, I’m imagining all those fields were growing mint.  So they have several tons of mint every year for no reason.  Well, mint and sunflower seeds.  Yup, that’s their nutrition in Shin Sekai Yori.

shin_sekai_yori-20-saki-light-explosion-cover-sky-flying shin_sekai_yori-20-fiend-horror-shadow

 

Senran Kagura (Episode 7)

senran_kagura-07-katsuragi-hanzou_academy-cleavage-open_shirt-school_uniform-smileAlthough the main protagonist cast of Senran Kagura is only five girls, they seem to have developed into specific cliques.  What this means is that we often see the girls in specific pairings or groups.  Two of the most obvious are Ikaruga and Katsuragi and of course, Yagyuu and Hibari.  There are some variations between them and with the other characters but the anime does not seem to concern itself with making the characters interact with everyone and making the group feel as one.  Although Asuka does converse and talk to all the characters, you never see Katsuragi talk to Hibari nor do you see Ikaruga start a conversation with Yagyuu or vice versa.  And given that there are only five characters, it seems incredibly strange and unlikely that the characters would be paired off and seemingly segregated from each other but that’s an unfortunate reality with Senran Kagura.  I almost wish that we saw the character groupings switched in this episode with the Ikaruga/Katsuragi pairing and Yagyuu/Hibari pairing broken and flipped so that way we’d see genuinely new character bonding and development in this anime.  In fact, you see that with the cast of villainous characters who seem to function more as a group of five rather than a group of two, two and Asuka.  But on the flip side, the pairings as they are currently are logical and appropriate, and they probably are better than just randomly mixing characters together just to see what they’re like.  Still, I’d love to see the character pairings mismatched for some time just to see how they interact with each other, especially since I want to see how the other girls would respond to Hibari’s constant dependency and timid nature.

senran_kagura-07-katsuragi-ikaruga-hanzou_academy-friends-hot_springs-bath-naked-steam-happy senran_kagura-07-yagyuu-hibari-hanzou_academy-bikinis-swimsuits-eye_patch-bath-friendship-pair

 

Sasami-san@Ganbaranai (Episode 6)

sasami_san@ganbaranai-06-sasami-shock-panic-fear-dread-horror-redWanna know why this was the best episode of Sasami-san@Ganbaranai?  Yup, it’s because there was no brother character.  By removing the incestuous, aggravating and worthless brother character, Sasami-san immensely improved as an anime.  Hopefully the anime learns from its success and effectively reduces his role to… well, in a perfect world, to nothing.  Too bad we know that won’t happen but, yeah, might as well enjoy Sasami-san when it’s at its best right now.

sasami_san@ganbaranai-06-sasami-happy-cat_pillow-excited sasami_san@ganbaranai-06-juju-mother-shrine_maiden-miko-staff-weak

 

Pscyho-Pass (Episode 17)

psycho_pass-17-kasei-sibyl_system-android-robot-computer-brains-glassesWith the revelation that the Sibyl System is a mass collection of various brains functioning in sync to immediately observe, judge and control the population, you have to wonder if that’s a system in control of these brains that overruns everything.  What we’ve seen of the Sibyl System in a throng of brains in their own individual containers being moved and connected to various computers to interface with the world and run the Sibyl System as form of a legal justice system.  But what runs the computer?  Who decides which brains to use for which purposes?  Or maybe, who designed the machine so that it would function the way it does?  I really wonder about the collection of brains being the ultimate top in Psycho-Pass given how the system is employed and that the machine ultimately dictates which brains go where and which ones do what.  I’d love for it to turn out that someone is controlling the machine for their own purposes or that the machine has a mind of its own and runs the Sibyl System according to its own sense of justice but it doesn’t seem that Psycho-Pass is heading down that path.  Oh, wouldn’t it be grand for there to be another bad guy above this level like a super computer or another villain of some sort?  Better yet, have the guy running the Sibyl System computer system be someone viewed as ‘good’ or ‘ethical’ to be the ultimate antagonist of the series.  Now that would be an appetizing and satisfying twist for the end.

psycho_pass-17-makishima-villain-antagonist-looking_down-bandages-smile-evil psycho_pass-17-kougami-angry-video_call-screen-bandage

 

Maoyuu Maou Yuusha (Episode 7)

maoyuu_maou_yuusha-07-maou-demon_queen-smile-red_eyes-red_hairThe earthquake scene in the seventh episode of Maoyuu Maou Yuusha was absolutely unanticipated and inconceivable.  No, not because of what it was but because of what it wasn’t.  How could Maoyuu have an earthquake and not dedicate one full scene or even a single shot to Maou’s boobs bouncing all over the place?  I mean this is a golden opportunity for her breasts to jiggle again and you didn’t show it off during the earthquake scene?  This is a mistake of seismic proportions.  You have to wonder whose fault this is.  My world has been shaken by this one motion on Maoyuu’s part; you couldn’t even predict this from happening, and just when I was getting some good vibrations from this anime, too!  Well, maybe it’s for the best that this anime didn’t dedicate a scene (or knowing Maoyuu, scenes) to some unnecessary shaking, but man… giant earthquake… massive boobs… I wonder if they realize the magnitude of this oversight.  And sorry for all the puns, they made this episode review kind of a disaster.

maoyuu_maou_yuusha-07-yuusha-hero-speech-proud-comedy maoyuu_maou_yuusha-07-grand_princess_fire_dragon-demon-fire_breath-brown_hair-romance

 

Little Busters! (Episode 19)

little_busters!-19-haruka-kud-komachi-yuiko-girls-baseball_mitts-gym_uniformsAlthough I complain and complain and continue to complain about Little Busters!, I continue to watch and enjoy the anime for one simple reason: the girls.  Well, that and there are a few other things, but I keep finding myself enjoying the episodes of Little Busters! thanks to its cast of amiable and amusing characters, their comedy and when they get together to have fun and play baseball.  You know, if the anime weren’t so concerned with its shoddy, half-hearted drama, the anime would be pretty fun as a pure comedy and a pretty decent anime overall.  In fact, due to the time and budget constraints on this adaptation, the comedy has been the best aspect of this series since it has been uncompromised throughout.  The girls are shown to be much better and much more enjoyable through the comedy scenes than through their drama scenes.  And because of that, I continue to watch Little Busters! and enjoy it as best I can.

little_busters!-19-kudryavka-surprised-cute-adorable-loli little_busters!-19-kyousuke-annoyed-smile-irritated-comedy

 

Kotoura-san (Episode 6)

kotoura_san-06-haruka-hiss-harrassment-cat_eyes-panic-comedy-adorable-intertube-beachYou know, since Haruka has no control over her mind-reading, psychic powers, shouldn’t she be constantly bombarded with thoughts at any public place?  Like, shouldn’t she be hearing the unceasing voices of hundreds of students when she goes to school every weekday?  And on the weekends, whenever she goes to a store or crowded public space, shouldn’t there be a constant noise in her head from all the voices going on and on and on about whatever is on their minds?  Unless Haruka has developed the ability to tune everyone else out, I have trouble imagining how or why she’s only able to read the minds of her friends and only at select times, too.  Not only that but is there a range or any specifics on how to read other people’s minds?  I think we’ve already established that she doesn’t need to look at them but she always needs to be near them but at what distance?  And since proximity seems to be factor in reading minds, you really have to wonder about how she managers herself in crowded areas with tons of people broadcasting their minds to her brain.  Well, maybe there’ll be an explanation later but I kinda wonder if she’s like Yukuhashi from Medaka Box Abnormal or a similar character.

kotoura_san-06-haruka-angry-serious-cute kotoura_san-06-haruka-strectched_face-funny_face-comedy-annoyed

 

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (Episode 19)

jojo's_bizarre_adventure-19-joseph-shocked-panic-surpriseSo falling for 5 seconds equates to 3 minutes of fighting, thoughts and dialogue in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure?  Well, I suppose that this is necessary considering all the development and action that occurred during that situation, but it just seems hilarious considering that it is given a time limit and then goes over it by about four thousand percent.  Then again, it’s not like JoJo’s is the only offender when it comes to this rule considering that just about every action or fighting anime does the same, especially since it’s just bending the rules of physics to perform its primary function: to tell a story.  I mean, the whole purpose of JoJo’s or any anime or any show for that matter is to tell a story, so when placed in situations like these, it’s perfectly alright for time to be distorted for the situation to be fully and, most importantly, properly explained.  Still, it is hilarious that so much time occurred in the anime when in reality, only five seconds of time was supposed to pass.

jojo's_bizarre_adventure-19-cars-red_stone_of_aja-necklace-pendant-villain jojo's_bizarre_adventure-19-joseph-smiling-clever-plan

 

Chihayafuru 2 (Episode 6)

chihayafuru_2-06-kana-chihaya-tsutomu-comment-message-explaination-japaneseThe comments that appear above the characters, just those quick little messages that pop up near the sides of their heads, is a lovely touch in Chihayafuru that helps explain or reinforce a character’s reaction in a subtle but humorous way.  The choice of message can be diverse from something simple, like showing a character mildly irritated with some accompanying silent words or complex enough to explain a character’s motivations which remain mysterious to the other character or counterintuitive given the recent dialogue or the character’s personality.  Either way, the comments that appear with these characters is a wonderful inclusion to the anime because it has a purpose and is also entertaining.

chihayafuru_2-06-sudou-karuta-reader-card-closed_eyes chihayafuru_2-06-chihaya-bloom-blossom-flowers-fun-excited-happy

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  1. #1 by Marina on February 24, 2013 - 5:19 PM

    Probably the most unique character for me in Tamako Market is that records shop/coffee place owner. He’s silent but supplies the perfect music and drinks at the perfect times. Who is he?!

    Also, props for that wonderful little review of the most recent episode of MMY. It was not a disaster of any sort of magnitude. It was comical and well written :p

    I’m really missing the darker elements in Kotoura-san that we experienced in the beginning. I’m hoping they make a return along with the mother, because as it is right now the show is just another s’life with the added bonus of ranged telepathy.

    • #2 by avvesione on March 2, 2013 - 12:02 AM

      You know, I forgot about the coffee/music shop owner when I was writing this post but, as we’ve seen through the series, he does seem a bit different than the other vendors in Tamako Market. While he has been shown as ‘one of the crowd’, he doesn’t venture out into the arcade nor really ever leaves his shop to mill around with the other characters. Not only that but his nonchalant attitude really helps differentiate him from the other vendors. An excellent point you bring up. And to answer your question, I don’t know, but I’d love to know more about him!

      Thanks about the MMY part; I had fun writing it after coming up with some puns. I also removed all the boob puns too since they were unnecessary… just like they are in MMY. =P

      Yeah, I don’t think I’ll enjoy Kotoura-san really much until it ditches the perverted jokes, the typical school-themed episodes and whatnot. I’d love to see the mother play more of a role soon but, the way it’s being set up, it’s gonna be something predictable/stupid. I can already predict that Haruka will confront her, she’ll get sad when her mother makes her feel bad and then Manabe talks to her about Haruka and then Haruka does something with her psychic ability to make her mother forgive her and then it’s all happy except for a perverted joke at the end. And if that happens, then yeah, I must be a psychic.

  2. #3 by mwnanamai on February 25, 2013 - 8:19 AM

    About Senran Kagura so far we only got some indications of Hibari being fond of Katsugari, but they didn’t develop much of that except Hibari cheering her a few times and the bathing scene in the beginning of the show.

    The Seismic omission of Maoyou was indeed unforgivable, it was the perfect opportunity to showcase the shows Gainax arsenal and take the opportunity to introduce a Chinese sismograph prototype based on boobs shaking physics.

    The earthquake was really random, some people attributed it to Yusha getting a boner when hugged by the Dragon Princess, because it doesn’t tie in anything besides Maou random “it is the end comment” about something, you would think that unhappy Demon subjects would send her a Demonic letter instead of causing a quake and if they can cause a quake then why not quake the humans into submission !

    • #4 by avvesione on March 2, 2013 - 12:06 AM

      Yeah, there are some few instances where the other characters are interacting with each other, but for 99% of the anime, it’s always Ikaruga/Katsuragi and Yagyu/Hibari. I wish in this episodes that the groups were mixed around a little more when they reunited on the path up, like HIbari running into Katsuragi or Yagyuu finding Asuka in the jungle or something.

      And yeah, I’m really curious about the earthquakes, too. Should be interesting to see what they’re all about if Maou knows what’s going on with them.

  3. #5 by BobBobsters on February 25, 2013 - 11:02 AM

    Turns out that Tamako is in fact the absent-minded shepherd for the market run by sheeple. Kanna and Midori are more like the scheming foxes trying to cause mayhem in the herds. Shiori is something like an observer I suppose…

    In Shin Sekai Yori, wasn’t the irrigation supposed to have been cut off in places, and the fields choked off? Should those be fields of burnt brown dead plant, and dirt? On the otherhand, we have already learned that unlike Tamako Market, the village in Shin Sekai Yori ACTUALLY IS A VILLAGE OF SHEEPLE. What better use of psychically powerful sheeple than to have them take care of a few plots of land for mint harvest?

    I’m rather worried about Space Bros. If I recall, it’s only set for some 50 episodes, which means it’s coming to an end pretty soon. I guess Hibito will never return from the moon, Mutta will never even finish his astronaut training, nor will we see his stressful, but in the end, lucky selection for being an astronaut, nor will we see him on mars, or coming back to find out that Apo had already lived 6 years longer than he should have. Or, I could be wrong and it’s more than 50, I don’t really remember anymore.

    • #6 by Kaellian on February 25, 2013 - 10:17 PM

      I remember reading a news on reddit about space brother getting a new seasons. I thought they were going for more.

      • #7 by BobBobsters on February 25, 2013 - 10:24 PM

        I hope so, otherwise we are stuck on loose ends!

    • #8 by avvesione on March 2, 2013 - 12:13 AM

      Tamako doesn’t really seem to be the shepherd as much as she’s just the favorite sheep of the flock. Her personality fits in with the rest of the vendors at the market, so I tend to see her as one of the faceless sheep. Also, Kanna is awesome.

      SSY, I think they just cut off the canals to the village and I think they only did that a few days before, so I don’t think any of the field should be brown. But yeah, I’m kinda curious what they were growing and who took care of the fields and how. Then again, I’d like to know everything about every anime setting but we know that stuff like that will never happen for every anime.

      And yeah, what Kaylia said about there being another season sometime.

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